April 1, 2020
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is placing unprecedented demands on America’s entire health care system. As the number of patients needing acute hospital care rapidly increases, hospitals may be challenged with significant shortages of staff and medical supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE), hospital beds, medicines and medical devices such as ventilators.
America’s hospitals are doing everything possible to enhance the availability of the vital tools and resources needed to care for patients during this pandemic. They are working with their suppliers to bolster their inventories as much as feasible. The AHA also is working with federal agencies and with Congress to bolster pandemic response resources, including advocating the use of the Defense Production Act and connecting manufacturers who can produce masks with hospitals and health systems through the “100 Million Mask Challenge.” Hospitals also are working closely with their state and local governments to access the Strategic National Stockpile and, where available, state government stockpiles. Moreover, they are working to increase hospital bed availability through surge capacity and coordinating with governmental partners on temporary alternative hospital sites (e.g., dorms, tents).
However, at times during the pandemic, front-line clinicians and hospital leaders may face extraordinarily challenging decisions about how to deploy limited staff and resources. Consequently, hospitals and health systems have expressed interest in tools and resources to help them apply consistent approaches to making these difficult decisions that are consistent with their organization’s values and their community needs.
What You Can Do
The AHA has attached a list of resources, tools and sample policies that hospital and clinical leaders may find helpful in developing their own organization’s approach to caring for patients with limited resources or under crisis circumstances. In addition to resources related to clinical ethics and crisis standards of care, this compilation includes selected COVID-19 related protocols and educational tools from hospitals and specialty societies that grapple with challenging circumstances.
Please note that the tools listed do not necessarily reflect the views of the AHA, nor do they constitute clinical advice from the AHA. Rather, they are meant to assist hospitals and health systems in devising or refining their own approaches.
Hospitals and health systems are encouraged to:
- Share this update and compendium with your key clinical and administrative leaders, including your chief medical officer, chief nursing officer, general counsel and leaders from your emergency, pulmonary/critical care, palliative care, spiritual care, hospice and clinical ethics departments;
- Review existing organizational policies around ethics, end-of-life care and disaster response, and consider revisions; and
- Stay abreast of guidelines and requirements for crisis standards of care and clinical ethics from your state and local health authorities.
COVID-19 Resources for Your Clinical Team
Below are resources for clinical teams as they prepare for and respond to COVID-19 in your community. For additional non-clinical resources, visit the American Hospital Association’s COVID-19 resource hub. Please note that the tools do not necessarily reflect the views of the AHA, nor do they constitute clinical advice from the AHA.
Ethical Guidance in the COVID-19 Era
Highlights key guidance including physician responsibilities in disaster response and preparedness as well as the allocation of limited resources.
For use within a health care organization’s preparedness work, supplementing public health and clinical practice guidance on COVID-19. It aims to help structure ongoing discussion of significant, foreseeable ethical concerns arising under contingency levels of care and potentially crisis standards of care.
Curated guidance on ethical considerations in pandemics, including allocation of scarce resources.
Helps hospital and health system policymakers in determining local and regional policies in a disaster.
Capacity Planning Tools
Assists hospitals with COVID-19 capacity planning.
Clinical Resources for Front-line Providers
Provides front-line providers guidance on COVID-19 diagnosis, treatment and response.
Manages critically ill adults with COVID-19 in the ICU.
Single-sheet resource with embedded links to related documents, videos and other tools.
Includes communications plans, how-to guide for building surge capacity, understanding ethical decision making and more.
Perspectives on treatment of COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease.
Helps radiology professionals make informed decisions during COVID-19.
Includes guidelines, webinars and podcasts.
Communication and Palliative Care
Facilitates proactive discussions ahead of severe illness, including tools to support treatment decisions and planning guides.
Crisis communication and symptom management protocols for all clinicians and tools to help palliative care teams address high levels of volume and stress during a crisis.
Licensing, Clinical Education Resources
Includes GME operations suspended so organizations and faculty members can focus on the needs of patients.
Additional Educational Resources
American College of Emergency Physicians | Courses
- Different types of ventilators, settings and management of patients on ventilators.
- Care of critical patients who require ICU care when the ICU is full.
- Respiratory therapy and the pathophysiology and pharmacological management of acute decompensated heart failure.
Society for Hospital Medicine | Courses
- Fluid Resuscitation in the Critically Ill
- Mechanical Ventilation Part I – The Basics
- Mechanical Ventilation Part II – Beyond the Basics
- Mechanical Ventilation Part III – ARDS
Society of Critical Care Medicine | Courses
- ICU Microcosm Within Disaster Medical Response
- Augmenting Critical Care Capacity During a Disaster
- Disaster Triage and Allocation of Scarce Resources
- Sustained Mechanical Ventilation Outside Traditional Intensive Care Units
Resources from the Field
Clinical Workflow and Policy Resources
- UW Medicine COVID-19 Resource Site
- University of KY Division of Infectious Diseases Division COVID-19 Resources
- Nebraska Medicine and the University of Nebraska Medical Center
- UCSF Medical Center
Well-being Resources Addressing Resilience
Hear From Your Colleagues – Podcasts From Physician Leaders
Feb. 26, 2020: AHA’s Akin Demehin, director of policy, speaks to Colleen Kraft, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University, about COVID-19.
March 19, 2020: Podcast with Priya Sampathkumar, M.D., consultant, Division of Infectious Diseases and associate professor of medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, highlighting key planning lessons at Mayo in preparation for COVID-19.
March 19, 2020: Audio Interview: New Research on Possible Treatments for COVID-19.
March 19, 2020: Kaiser Permanente Executive Vice President Stephen M. Parodi, M.D. joins JAMA Editor Howard Bauchner, M.D. to discuss telemedicine, staffing revisions, equipment allocation planning, and more.